The Tragic Reason Larry From The Three Stooges Really Played Violin

For an astounding 48 years, The Three Stooges reigned supreme, working their way from vaudeville to Broadway, from movie shorts to features, and on to television sets across the globe with Larry, Moe, and Curly becoming the ultimate comedy trio and the slapstick legends of the century (via IMDb). Diehard Stooges fans recall a myriad of beloved moments full of charming idiocy and unabashed ridiculousness. All the head bonks, insults, and quirky chaos wrought by the three lovable bozos have become archetypes of countless comedy feats to follow. However, it's sometimes hard to tell the difference between a happy clown and a sad clown. It's the timeless duality of comedy.

If you've ever watched The Three Stooges, you might remember seeing the character Larry — portrayed by Larry Fine — sawing sweetly on a fiddle from time to time. Fine was actually a skilled violinist in real life and had a rich history of musical ability. Contrary to what you might think, his penchant for music didn't start as a recreational prospect. According to Screen Rant, Fine started playing the violin at a young age following a tragic accident that almost left him physically marred for life.

Larry Fine started playing violin after a painful accident

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) reports that Larry was born Louis Feinberg in Philadelphia in 1902. When he was a child, the future Larry Fine suffered an unfortunate accident in his father's jewelry shop. Fine's father kept dangerous chemicals in his store to polish and maintain gems, and when the young Larry happened across a small container of oxalic acid, he thought it was water. He was going to drink it; his father slapped the bottle away, but the contents spilled onto Larry's arm and it burned right through his frail skin. The acid's effect was so severe that the boy's muscles became painfully exposed.

Doctors recommended some form of physical therapy to avoid any permanent hindrance to proper arm function. They initially suggested boxing, but Fine's mother wasn't too keen on the idea and suggested that he take up an instrument instead. He landed on the violin, and it fortunately became a long-lasting talent that played a notable role in his television career.

Larry Fine was also a boxer

Despite his mother's forebodings, Larry Fine took up boxing in addition to the violin. The venture proved to be a successful one, and he competed as an amateur lightweight until (depending who you believe) his father put a stop to it. In 2013, author Geoff Dale published a largely fictional book titled "The Fine Art of Boxing: No Stooge in the Ring" that was inspired by Fine's amateur boxing career and his life beyond the set of The Three Stooges, a sort of "what if Larry had pursued boxing instead of comedy?" His authorized biography, "One Fine Stooge," was published in 2006.

Larry Fine led an eclectic life, and his various abilities outlined a wide spectrum of talent. The multiple layers of expertise that he embodied often get overlooked by fans, but they're as much a part of his story as his time spent with The Three Stooges. On January 24, 1975, he died at the age of 72 after suffering a series of strokes (per The New York Times).